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Stop Tanking America, Part 3: EPA Tightens Grip on U.S. Power Sector, Threatens Jobs and Growth

May 01, 2012 J

President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is using a pair of painful regulations to cripple affordable and abundant forms of energy. Coupling the Utility MACT and greenhouse gas New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for power plants—both intended to disproportionately affect coal- and oil-fired plants—ensures that EPA has complete control over the power sector. Together, the twin rules will increase the cost of electricity, threaten power reliability, and cost the American economy millions of jobs.

The EPA’s electric utility Maximum Achievable Control Technology (Utility MACT) rule, finalized in February, forces power plants to invest in expensive new equipment to control emissions of mercury and other air pollutants. It has been called the most costly regulation in history.

The only options for the affected coal- and oil-fired plants are to close all together or pass these costs along to their customers, and American families and businesses simply can’t afford either option. NERA Economic Consulting estimates the rule will cause the cost of electricity to spike by 12 percent nationwide and as much as 24 percent in certain regions. They also show that the rule could cost the country as many as 1.4 million jobs.

Power reliability could be at risk as well. The North American Electric Reliability Corporation estimates that the rule could require retrofits for up to 753 units, and that up to 15 gigawatts of electricity generation could be forced into retirement—putting a great deal more strain on the nation’s already over-burdened electricity grid.

All of these incredible costs imposed, and for what purpose? Dr. Willie Soon and Mr. Paul Driessen conclude in a recent Wall Street Journal column:

[T]he EPA’s actions can be counted on to achieve only one thing—which is to further advance the Obama administration’s oft-stated goal of penalizing hydrocarbon use and driving a transition to unreliable renewable energy. The proposed standards will do nothing to reduce exaggerated threats from mercury and other air pollutants. Indeed, the rules will worsen America’s health and well-being—especially for young children and women of child-bearing age. Not only will they raise heating, air conditioning and food costs, but they will scare people away from eating nutritious fish that should be in everyone’s diet.

The EPA’s recently-proposed greenhouse gas NSPS may be even more egregious. The new rule seeks to limit the emissions of so-called greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide, specifically targeting coal-fired power plants with costly requirements.

No new coal plant can afford the prohibitively expensive carbon capture sequestration technology that is required by the EPA’s new standard. The result is a fulfillment of the President’s promise that under his administration, “if somebody wants to build a coal plant, they can – it’s just that it will bankrupt them.”

Additional EPA regulations to target (and bankrupt) the nation’s more than 400 existing coal-fired plants are not far behind. The American Legislative Exchange Council notes that this onslaught of global warming regulations together could cause electricity and gasoline prices to rise by 50 percent and cost the American economy up to 2.5 million jobs by the year 2030.

The good news: Congress still has an opportunity to fight back. Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe has introduced an official resolution of disapproval of the Utility MACT rule, which, with the House’s concurrence and the President’s signature, would overturn the rule entirely and force the EPA to go back to the drawing board. The EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations are continually being opposed by reliable conservatives in the halls of Congress and in courtrooms across the country. It’s an uphill battle, but one worth fighting for.

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If you haven’t already, sign the petition telling President Obama to “Stop Tanking America!”

Click here to read Stop Tanking America, Part 1 on the continued delays in permitting the Keystone Pipeline.

Click here to read Stop Tanking America, Part 2 on wasteful stimulus spending for companies like Solyndra.

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